Lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and scleroderma are several types of arthritis that make people more sensitive to sunlight – either because of arthritis itself or the medications they take to treat it. It is important for these people to include sun protection as part of their self-management plan.
The sun radiates two types of “invisible” ultraviolet light that are harmful if you are exposed to it for a long period of time – ultraviolet A (UVA) can age the skin and ultraviolet B (UVB) can burn the skin. Both UVA and UVB can alter the DNA of skin cells, increasing the risk of skin cancer. For people living with lupus, psoriatic arthritis or scleroderma, sun exposure can make symptoms worse or increase damage to skin cells.
Sun sensitivity is a hallmark of lupus. People with lupus experience one or many of these symptoms:
- “butterfly” rash over the bridge of the nose and the upper cheeks
- scaly, purplish lesions on the face and neck
- red, circular rashes on the chest, back and arms
Sun exposure can bring on these rashes or make existing rashes worse. Those with systemic lupus erythematosus find that exposure to the sun triggers a flare, including joint pain, fatigue, and fever.